Art is something created with imagination skill, and it is beautiful – that’s one modern definition of art. Hatch Show Print artists make their creations inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The results are something you can see firsthand when you tour the historic shop.
“You can smell the ink. You can feel the paper,” described Celene Aubry, the shop’s manager. The story of Nashville covers the walls of the Hatch Show Print shop. A story that dates back more than a century and extends beyond Nashville’s borders.
“Back in the day, it was a letterpress print shop, and you could get everything printed from posters to large format advertising to the size of billboards,” Aubry continued, “Also business cards, birth announcements, tickets to the spaghetti dinner at your local church.”
141 years later, the shop may have changed locations but its purpose and legacy remains the same. “Today in the 21st century, we really focus on what the shop has really been known for, for so many years,” said Aubry.
It’s known for custom prints and posters for every and any event, milestone or idea imaginable. “I always like to say the next poster coming off the press is my favorite poster,” Aubry said.
“Originally the posters were made to tell you or sell you something. They were advertisements initially for live entertainment,” Aubry referenced the shop’s start in 1879. “Early in the pre-20th century era, lots of posters were hand carved in the shop.”
Hatch Show Print is one of the oldest letterpress print shops in North America. “The shop was probably born in the basement of one of the two daily newspapers at the time,” Aubry said.
As the country music scene in Nashville grew, so did the letterpress business. “We helped them (country musicians) advertise and get their faces out,” Aubry said.
Hatch Show Print moved several more times before setting up shop behind the Ryman Auditorium in 1925. Then in 1992, it moved again. This time to Lower Broadway. “A lot of people probably remember us being there.”
The shop became historic property of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1992. Then it moved inside the museum in 2013. Aubry recalled, “A lot of people who come to visit us say ‘I didn’t know you were here or you existed or do all of these wonderful things.'”
Aubry said the shop truly takes Nashville’s story to another level, “One thing I always think is, if you’ve spent time in Nashville and you’ve looked at how the city presents itself visually with its posters and even to some degree the murals that go on now, then you know Hatch because we’ve been here so long. We’ve formed the visual language the city in particular uses.”
The shop runs of preservation through production. It’s a legacy Aubry is delighted to uphold, “A lot of the imagery, the hand carved image blocks are decorative elements that you see on some of these posters are original to the shop. It’s all original to the shop because the business has been in continuous operation since 1879.”
Today the shop creates more than 200,000 posters a year, while also operating as a working museum. Additionally, it provides educational experiences.
Learn more about Hatch Show Print here.